With 2017 half over, New York City reported significant drops in all kinds of serious crimes, with a nearly 40 percent reduction in June, according to NYPD records reviewed by Newsday and law enforcement sources.
As of June 30, homicides were trending close to 21 percent lower than in 2016, with shootings down by about 17 percent, putting the city on track to set record lows in the categories for the modern CompStat era.
If current crime trends continue, the city could drop below 300 in homicides, something never before seen in New York under record keeping that dates back to about 1962, according to police officials.
The city reported 335 homicides in 2016. As of July 2, the city reported 127 homicides, a drop of 20.6 percent from the same period a year ago. Even a drop of 15 percent by the end of the year would mean about 285 killings by year end.
Last year, 998 shootings occurred, the lowest number ever. As of July 2, they city had 369 shootings, a drop of 17 percent from 2017 and putting the city on track for under 900 by the end of the year.
NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill and Mayor Bill de Blasio usually hold a news conference earlier in the month to talk about the previous month’s trends. But the July Fourth holiday and the death of Det. Miosotis Familia has likely pushed that back until later this month.
When they do speak to the media, they will probably highlight statistics that indicate a precipitous drop of close to 40 percent in serious crimes such as homicide, rape, robbery and burglary in June. As of July 9, overall crime was down just over 5 percent, killings down 20.6 percent and shootings dropped 16.9 percent.
The significant drop in killings and shootings is believed by experts to be a result of an aggressive NYPD gang offensive coupled with an explosion in weapons conspiracy cases brought by federal prosecutors that have led to prison sentences averaging about five years.
“They go after violent gangs more than the local prosecutors,” said one police source, who didn’t want to be named, about the efforts by New York federal prosecutors.
Records kept by the nonprofit Transactional Records Access Center, affiliated with Syracuse University, showed that last year federal prosecutors in Brooklyn brought 117 weapons prosecutions for guns, up from 58 in 2015. Federal prosecutors in Manhattan brought 237 weapons indictments in 2016, up from 199 in 2015, the records show. Average prison sentences range from 40 to 51 months in those cases.
Fear of heavy sentences in federal cases is driving gang members to cooperate with police in weapons conspiracy cases, the source said.
“Just when you think the numbers can’t go down any further, the numbers go down,” said adjunct professor Joseph Giacalone at John Jay College of Criminal Justice
“The feds involvement is huge because bad guys know you are going away for a long period of time,” Giacalone said of federal prosecutions. “This is the key to reducing violence going forward.”